26 February 2019

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part review

It's kind of hard to believe that it's been five full years since The Lego Movie was released (I've officially reached that age where I say things like "this years gone fast"), but really, quite a lot has happened in that time. We've had two The Lego Movie spin-offs, of varying quality. Star Wars came back. The Marvel Cinematic Universe went from big deal to maybe the biggest deal. The DC Extended Universe started in earnest, and then died on its ass, and then started again. Pokémon Go came and went, which for my money is still the last time the world felt positive. The USA elected their very own President Business. Bloody Brexit.

My point is that despite just how quickly the time has passed, a lot has happened in our world since the release of The Lego Movie - so maybe it's only appropriate that a lot has happened to the world of The Lego Movie in that time too. Picking up right where the first film ended before jumping forward in time five years, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part sees the city of Bricksburg destroyed by Duplo alien invaders and rebuilt as a gritty, post-apocalyptic wasteland called Apocalypseburg, forcing the population (with Emmet as the only exception) to adopt a dark and tough persona in order to survive. But after an alien from the Systar system named General Mayhem kidnaps Batman, Unikitty, Benny, Metalbeard and Wyldstyle, it's up to Emmett to rescue them and prevent OurMomAgeddon, teaming up with a battle hardened space pilot named Rex Dangervest along the way.

6 February 2019

Green Book review

With just a few minor tweaks, it's entirely conceivable to me that Green Book could've played as a near pitch perfect satire of your average piece of prestige picture Oscar bait. I mean, look at the damn thing - it's not just a period piece, but an allegedly true story period piece that "tackles" (and I use that word in the lightest way possible) historical prejudices, while always managing to adhere to a tone that subtly and not so subtly insists those days are long behind us, that the societal problems on display in the film aren't something to be worried about now. Add to that an incredibly grounded, down to earth, emotionally driven performance from Mahershala Ali and one hilariously over-the-top, larger than life, hugely stereotypical performance from Viggo Mortensen, and it's easy to see a world in which Green Book could've been to Oscar bait what Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was to the musical biopic.

Sadly, that's not the case. Green Book may contain moments of comedy (both on purpose and entirely by accident), but as far as intent goes we're a long way away from anything that could be considered even slightly subversive. Instead, it's the kind of film your elderly grandparents would love, showing how easily racism can be fixed when "one of the good blacks" is willing to give the white man a chance, a white man who despite being shown early on to be overtly racist is a nice enough, open-minded guy deep down. Sure, some cops back then were racist, but hey, #NotAllCops, and the good ones will help you get your car out of the snow with a smile on their faces. Sure, some might've been corrupt too - but hey, Green Book makes sure to point out that some of those cops are black. At almost every turn, Green Book tries to find a way to make the injustices featured throughout seem all that more palatable, and the result is a film that really had nothing interesting or original to say on the topics that it's supposedly - but isn't actually - about.